Top women’s football players head to town

Team of the year

Football fans get the chance to see some of New Zealand’s best women’s footballers on Sunday when the national league competition returns to Cambridge.

WaiBOP will host national champions Canterbury United Pride at John Kerkhof Park (noon) in the ISPS Handa Women’s Premiership.

It’s the highest level of domestic competition and includes full and age-group international players.

Of special interest to local supporters, the WaiBOP squad will include teenager Aimee Feinberg-Danielli, the goalkeeper for Cambridge FC in this year’s Waikato division 2.

She showed such promise in her first season of senior football she was drafted into the regional squad for last weekend’s 2-2 draw againt Central in Palmerston North.

Meanwhile, a new award to recognise team achievement at Cambridge FC has been won by the club’s U-12 WaiBOP Federation J-League team.

The award is open to all teams at the club and will be presented annually.

Receiving the trophy at the club’s Senior Prizegiving, the players were given a standing ovation by more than 80 senior players and supporters.

Announcing the award, Cambridge FC’s Technical Director Ricki Herbert said the club’s football committee had wanted to recognise special efforts by teams and it was appropriate that it had been won by such a promising youth team.

“This is the future of your club,” Herbert said, as the players stepped up to receive their applause.

Herbert said the team had looked likely to have “a testing season” when they prepared to participate in a Waikato/Bay of Plenty-wide competition bringing together the region’s best U-12 players.

However, they improved all year and finished second in the J-League.

They built on this with a runners-up spot at the prestigious Weir Rose Bowl tournament in October, a competition that has previously seen regional rep teams take part.

A week later, they won their age group section at the McCartney Invitational Tournament in Taupo, a competition that draws leading teams from the rest of the country.

Herbert said they went unbeaten through the tournament after facing sides from Wellington and Auckland.

He praised the efforts of coach Bradley Rea and manager Braedon Makgill.

“Keep an eye on this team,” Herbert advised the audience. “There’s some real talent here and we’re looking forward to seeing them develop through to the senior ranks of this club.”

Highlights from the club’s awards night included:

  • Super-volunteer Craig Clark – made a Life Member three nights before – landed both the Club Person of the Year and the Club Personality of the Year, and all on his birthday.
  • Goalkeeper Fraser Nicholls took the men’s Player of the Year shield, named after the late Jim Barry – a goalkeeper who died tragically young in the 1980s.
  • Skipper Steph Upton was named the women’s Player of the Year in her first season at the club.
  • Goalkeepers from every senior team took home at least one trophy.
  • Striker Adam Brady was also presented with the WaiBOP Football shield for topscoring in the WaiBOP Championship. He scored 11 goals in a disrupted season, one more than his nearest rival.
  • At the club’s annual meeting, three more Life Members were elected, taking to 16 the total number honoured in the club’s 72-year history. They are club chairman Steve Thomas, secretary Josh Easby and award-winning volunteer Craig Clark.
  • More than 330 men, women and young adults have begun their summer football season with 40 teams taking part in the club’s Onyx-sponsored Cambridge Summer League.

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